Now, let's suppose that you were a vampire...
Yes, darn it. My mind works like this on a regular basis. Let's get back to the topic at hand.
Let's suppose that you were a vampire. But I don't refer to the concept of the ultra-modern vampire as we now know it, so let's get all thoughts of Bela Lugosi, Anne Rice, Joss Whedon, Stephenie Meyer, and the World of Darkness out of your head for a while. Let's get down to the basics -- and when I say basics, I mean the concrete essences of what makes you vampire in the first place:
1. You consume blood. This is pretty much the traditional characteristic, although it remains to be seen as to whether or not you'll actively go for the human variety.
2. You're undead. You're presumably still alive around the time you get "converted", so you're not exactly decomposing by the minute like some ordinary zombie.
3. You live far longer than necessary. This is one of the consequences of not really being alive. Being a walking corpse also implies that you're tougher than usual, which isn't too bad a deal.
4. You're adversely affected by sunlight. Meyer's "sparkly" vampires aside, mere exposure to sunlight will leave some really painful burns on your skin. Prolonged exposure to sunlight will kill you, plain and simple.
5. You're severely debilitated by a stake to the heart. Don't worry -- the same can be said of anyone else, I suppose.
6. You can create other vampires. The processes are too varied to list, I'm afraid.
So now that we can suppose that you were a vampire, I'll ask a single basic question: Just what do you do with your existence?
Oh, I imagine that some people have a quite a few answers already. Maybe you'd go clubbing every night. Maybe you'd indulge yourself in drink or drugs (particularly since none of them would leave your system with any long-term effects). I figure that your sex life would probably be nothing short of incredible.
Nevertheless, I'd still ask: What the heck would you do with your existence?
I mean, you can't necessarily go dancing, drinking, drugging or sexing yourself forever. You'd get bored, darn it... especially when we're talking near-immortality here. Ordinary humans can probably take on only about ten to twenty years of hard partying before it all starts feeling like the same old, same old. Face it -- you're bound to start looking for meaning sometime.
I imagine that the hunt would be a significant factor for at least the first couple of decades. You'd need some nice warm human blood to feed on, I mean, and no matter how long you live, every single victim you encounter will react in a completely different manner to your... efforts. In short, you'd probably get some entertainment value out of stalking and feeding on humans.
The problem is that this would also degenerate into the usual "same old, same old", with some very practical reasons attached. A trail of exsanguinated bodies, after all, attracts attention... and after a while, like some advanced RPG player, you'd start developing techniques that will always guarantee you a meal for the night. You'd get bored of the whole game eventually. And besides... why not just raid the local hospital or blood bank for samples? The longer you stick around, the more pragmatic you're likely to think.
Modern literature is full of vampires who have been around for a long time, perhaps about a couple of hundred years at least. This provides a lot of rest periods where you can sit around and wonder just what to do with your (un)life. The catch is that there are no good immediate answers, and those first things that come to mind will only last you a few decades before you get bored.
The first practical consideration that comes to mind is the possibility of furthering oneself. That is -- you can pick out virtually any field you want, and delve into such an interest. You can master the intricacies of writing, I suppose. Or you can learn the art of gemstone appraisal. You can earn that double degree in medicine, or you can memorize each and every nuance of the law. You can become a respected stage actor, or hone your skills as a jazz musician. I mean... you've got the time, and you'll most likely be able to procure the resources. You'll probably get more out of this than your original clubbing itinerary, and if you ever get bored, you can change fields.
The second consideration is that you can go into business. This is the kind of thing that will almost certainly change with each generation; you could be selling horseshoes and buggy whips one century, and fiber-optic cables the next. There will always be a demand for business around here... and if you get bored with your line of work, you can just switch to a new product or service. Heck, if you're still not convinced, just think about the possibility of selling your stock in a company one hundred years after your initial purchase -- you'd have enough funds to cover every luxury to be invented.
The third and final consideration in my book just happens to involve politics. I'm not saying that you should take over a country and become a vampiric despot, of course -- I'm merely saying that politics is an extremely complex field that can never really be mastered. What that means for you, however, is that it's a game that constantly changes with time... and can therefore keep your interest for a good long while. It will probably take you generations you ascend to the rulership of even a small country, and if you find yourself dissatisfied with your lifestyle then, you can run it to the ground and try to manipulate another region.
And if by some chance you still find yourself horribly, horribly bored even after all that, then you've been exposed to the inherent curse of immortality: Life is ultimately a passel of limited experiences. You might as well sit on a high cliff and wait for the sun to come up -- that way, you get a good view before it scatters your form into dry ash.
Yes, this is what goes through my mind whenever somebody so much as brings up an idea where traditional vampires exist alongside humans. I mean, it's an interesting concept and all, but you really have to think long-term here. Despite their obvious disconnection to us, I like to assume that vampires are still human, deep down inside that tough bloodless exterior. No wonder they get characterized as the brooding, angsty types.
Vampirism sucks, I suppose. And I do mean that in a truthful, yet painfully pun-induced manner.